A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
I finally reached that point in the year where I had to accept that a part-time job would be a good idea – my savings were dwindling by the day, thanks in part to endless trips to Bagels and Beans and the draw of fresh gevulde koeken on market day. But the second semester is also even more stressful than the first one: I have my thesis to write, assignments for another module to finish and jobs to apply for so I don’t feel like the world is ending when my education finishes in June.
So, how do you manage to combine the stresses of study with work responsibilities? After working part-time for a month, here are some tips from me. Of course, everyone works differently, and it also depends on what type of job you manage to get.
I have a tendency to pick up any shifts I can, knowing (or at least, hoping) that once I’m paid the stress will all seem worth it. However, this can lead to a very stressful month where you feel like you’re spending all your possible time at work, and not studying for classes or having fun in the Netherlands (which is the reason you came, right?). Only take on as many hours as you know you’ll be able to handle, and learn to say ‘no’ to those offers for more shifts.
Especially when your first paycheck comes in, you might have the urge to reward yourself for all those hours at work with some days off, maybe to go to those places you’ve always wanted to. However, learn to balance your time off evenly with studying and enjoying yourself. If you know you’re going to be working in the evening, for example, try and spend at least a few hours in the morning finishing that essay or reading that novel for class, so you’re not stressing out the day after when you spent the entire morning preparing for work by watching Netflix. BUT, if you have had an especially busy week, do make sure to take some time off from both work and study. Having extra spending money or finishing that essay early isn’t worth being stressed for a whole week.
This won’t always be possible, but if you’re on a zero-hour contract and can request shifts in advance, try and plan them for the same days every week. This will make it easier to plan deadlines and any other responsibilities you might have around your work schedule.
These are just a few things I’ve realised in the past month or so of working. If you have any more tips for international students trying to balance working and studying, do comment below!
As a side note, if you’re looking to make a Dutch CV in preparation for job-hunting (it may impress Dutch employers if you’ve taken the time to translate it, even if the job itself is in English and you’ve just used Google Translate), I found the following websites were very useful: